By TEDDYE SNELL
Groups across Cherokee County are hoping area residents will do their part to protect the environment every day, but especially this weekend.
Earth Day is Monday, April 22, and Cassandra Carter, education outreach coordinator for the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission, issued an invitation for area residents to help out this weekend and on Monday.
“Earth Day is a day to celebrate our environment and reflect on ways individuals can incorporate conservation efforts into their everyday lives,” said Carter. “This Earth Day, the OSRC asks folks to engage in at least one small act of river conservation.”
Carter offered a number of suggestions as ways for people to help, including checking cars for oil or anti-freeze leaks, as these create runoff to the sewer and water systems.
“If you’re painting, clean paint brushes inside instead of outside to avoid runoff,” she said. “Citrus solvent is an environmentally friendly product to clean paint brushes, and it also cleans oil and grease.”
Carter also asked people to pick up after pets and properly dispose of waste. Save The Illinois River Inc. has installed a number of pet waste disposal stations that include bags and receptacles for waste disposal.
“They could also sweep up litter and debris from their residential or commercial driveways, parking lots and sidewalks to prevent sediment from being swept away during the next rain,” said Carter. “They could also wash their cars at home on the grass so the water can be soaked up by the lawn.”
Finally, Carter asks people to visit either the Illinois River or a nearby stream and pick up a small bag of trash.
In observance of Earth Day, STIR will host a cleanup of Tahlequah’s Town Branch Creek. STIR member Barb Daily is spearheading the effort that begins at 10 a.m., Saturday, April 20 at the pedestrian bridge behind the Tahlequah Amory Municipal Center.
“We’re inviting folks to meet us at the bridge, where we’ll provide trash bags furnished by the OSRC,” said Daily. “Clear bags will also be provided for recyclable items. We’ll have prizes for some lucky volunteers who complete their cleaning and collect the most trash from a designated section of the creek.”
Daily reminds everyone to wear appropriate clothing and shoes that can get wet and dirty, and families are encouraged to participate. To pre-register, contact Daily at (918) 444-2616, or participants can register Saturday morning at the creek. The event will run until 1 p.m.
On Monday, April 22, music and river enthusiasts alike won’t want to miss the Earth Day Songwriters Jam from 6 to 9 p.m. the Iguana Cafée. Nancy Garber, Save The Illinois River member, said the new STIR CD will be available.
“We hope folks will join us in celebrating the release of ‘Songs for For the Illinois River, Vol. 2,’” said Garber. “Proceeds from CD sales will benefit STIR. Performers at Monday night’s jam will include featured artists from the CD.”
Garber also invited songwriters and musicians who want to share original Illinois River songs to participate in the event.
Earth Day marks the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970. According to www.earthday.org, the event was founded by Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. senator from Wisconsin, who witnessed the ravages of the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, Calif., and was inspired by the student anti-war movement.